This Is War by Karen Kwiatkowski

Friday, April 9, 2010

It’s war you can watch on video, much like a movie, except the victims really die and the killers really murder. If you watch and listen to the entire recording of the July 12, 2007 helicopter attack on a group of Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters employees, you will hear the repeated use of military call signs, but towards the end, you hear an exasperated voice sharing an aside with "Kyle." It’s Grand Theft Auto meets Reno 911 – except it isn’t. One is entertained by GTA and the antics of incompetent policepeople. One is simply floored by what our soldiers are doing, and how they are doing it. In their defense, they say, "This is war."

Except, of course, it isn’t war at all. It’s an occupation, and a partial occupation at that. In July 2007, the Iraq mission had been accomplished for over four years. We are allies with Eurasia; we have always been at war with Eastasia. How could you have possibly missed it?

Reuters had a longstanding FOIA request for this record of how their unarmed employees died that day. The military delayed, refused, and by some reports, lost the videotape.

WikiLeaks apparently received an anonymous donation of the evidence Reuters had asked for, and they posted it. The military has confirmed the authenticity and is downplaying what happened, with the help of major American media. So far, views on YouTube are over 4 million and rising.

If you watch what American soldiers and their commanders did on that day, and presumably on many such days, you will be struck by the laughter. Laughing when they shoot, after they shoot, in viewing the dead and near dead, and even laughing as they drive over the bodies in a hurry to record mission success. For the most part, this isn’t nervous laughter; instead, it is the laughter of thugs, the laughter of bullies.

You may also be struck by the obsession with personal safety and the reliance on technology to murder and maim from afar – a disturbing trend that air operations have known for decades. From a distance, the men and a few children appear to be scurrying insects. Except, of course, they are not.

The conditioning of our soldiers in occupation operations is clear, and complete. Listen to the recording. The people are the enemy, and if they or their children die, it’s their own fault for being in a war zone. As some have noted, when these guys leave the military they often join local police and security forces. Can they turn off the hatred and brutality and self-justification when it is Americans who are congregating and scurrying?

WikiLeaks has worried the Pentagon for some time. The website recently posted a two-year-old Army intelligence product entitled, "An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups? The report indicates that the Army considers WikiLeaks a threat, observes approvingly that allies China, Israel and Russia block such sites and prosecute the leakers, and suggests that "The identification, exposure, or termination of employment of or legal actions against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others from using to make such information public."

Suspicion confirmed. American official defense strategy is "shoot the messenger."

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